More Stars, More Money: Increase Your Revenue 5-9% With Better Customer Reviews
Reviews Translate to Your Bottom Line
Like it or not, customer reviews are here to stay. We no longer live in a world where customer feedback is simply a “nice-to-have” metric – something that businesses may or may not use to improve how they deliver products or services in the future. Customer reviews no longer come from generic paper surveys that businesses can toss in the trash, ignore, forget about, or avoid. The truth is, the conversation around customer feedback has evolved. In fact, many would claim that customers are now the primary drivers of these conversations in today’s marketplace.
For some companies, this may be a scary thought – at least initially. Now, suddenly every customer can review their experience with your brand in a real-time, public forum. That’s not something to be taken lightly, because ratings and reviews actually influence customer decision-making. How so? Well, the “science” behind it is more about human psychology than anything. To put it simply: we care about what people think. And not just our family and friends – according to OpenTable, the referrals of total strangers carry significant weight as well. We like to share our experiences and hear about the experiences of others who are out there doing the same things. We like to check in, compare notes, and get tips for how to do it better next time. We use customer reviews as data points to make more informed decisions each and every day.
One such decision could be to avoid a new restaurant because it’s reviews describe long wait times and poor service. On the flip side, another decision could be to visit that hole-in-the-wall dive bar whose reviewers rave that they have amazing drink specials and fun dance music. In either case, both reviews translate to the bottom line of the business by impacting its ability to attract and retain customers.
Managing Your Brand’s Digital Footprint
What’s more, customer reviews feed into what is known as your brand’s “digital footprint”. This refers to your company’s online identity, which contains information about your brand that’s accessible to the public. It includes everything from your company website, social media presence, and public relations, to online activities, social mentions, and yes, customer reviews. In fact, entire platforms have been built specifically to enable real-time, customer feedback. From Google Reviews, to Yelp, to industry-specific platforms like OpenTable, customers have no shortage of outlets through which they can speak their minds. And once they do, their thoughts are out there – tied to your brand in a meaningful way that doesn’t ever really disappear from your digital footprint. Forbes states that eighty-five percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. In short, your digital footprint matters – a lot.
Fear not: the age of customer reviews is not necessarily bad for business! Indeed, positive customer feedback can actually be very good for business. According to a study conducted by Harvard Business School, a restaurant who increases their average Yelp rating by just one star can expect a rise in revenue anywhere from five to nine percent! That’s the kind of meaningful growth that positive ratings and reviews can bring. Not bad, eh?
Five-Star Reviews with Wooden Tokens
Given the weight that customer reviews carry, it’s surprising that most businesses don’t have a real strategy in place to achieve five-star reviews with each transaction. Most companies just go as far as asking customers to go online and rate their experience as they’re walking out the door. But not only are most customers not compelled to leave a review when asked to do so, even making that request can seem off-putting – or worse, desperate. Not to mention, the unfortunate reality is that some customers may not have had a five-star experience with your brand. Do you really want them to leave a scathing review on your company profile? Of course not. So the question becomes: How can you keep your ratings high, while also taking into account the variability in service delivery that comes along with running any business?
For Long Bridge Pizza Company, the answer came in the unexpected form of custom wooden tokens. This San Francisco-based pizza restaurant uses the tokens as their secret weapon to always getting five-star reviews. They recently reached out to our team at Toasted Maple to come up with a custom, double-sided wooden token that they could hand out to their customers. We helped them create their own uniquely branded currency – a miniature wooden pizza paddle featuring the Long Bridge Pizza Company logo and website address. This isn’t your typical circular wooden token that could belong to anyone. It’s entirely customized to represent their business.
Because of that, it works like a marketing tool without customers really even knowing it. When Long Bridge hands out one of their tokens, they create an unexpected experience with their customers that leaves a lasting impression of their brand. It’s similar to the “surprise-and-delight” marketing approach that many brands are implementing in a digital capacity. But what about in a capacity you can actually touch? Could surprise-and-delight customer interactions in “real life” be even more impactful?
Custom Wooden Tokens for Service Recovery
As it turns out, for Long Bridge Pizza Company, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Customers can redeem their wooden tokens in exchange for a free small pizza and draft beer combo. Pretty sweet, right? The kicker is that Long Bridge specifically gives their wooden tokens to customers who have made complaints about their experience or who for some reason were not satisfied with their order.
Although it may initially seem counterintuitive to “reward” customers who complain, Long Bridge is essentially using their custom wooden tokens as part of their service recovery strategy. The tokens provide a tangible way to transform a bad taste into a good one. Although it’s rare for customers to be dissatisfied with their experience, the reality is that sometimes it happens (as is true for any business). And when it does, Long Bridge has a strategy in place to turn a wrong into a right. At the same time, they protect themselves from negative ratings or reviews and incentivize unhappy customers to come back and give them a second chance. Not to mention, they create a delightful brand interaction so that even dissatisfied customers ultimately leave the restaurant on a positive note.
The good news is that what worked for Long Bridge Pizza Company can also work for your business. Whether you need to reward loyal customers, attract new customers, or win back dissatisfied customers, wooden tokens can get the job done.